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Bride freaks when in-laws insist on upholding 'kidnap the bride tradition;' 'I am too mentally ill for this.' AITA? UPDATED

Bride freaks when in-laws insist on upholding 'kidnap the bride tradition;' 'I am too mentally ill for this.' AITA? UPDATED


When this bride-to-be is having major anxiety about her in-laws pre-wedding ritual, she asks the internet:

"AITA for being freaked out by the kidnapping the bride tradition?"

Hi! I (24F) am in the process of wedding planning. My fiancé’s (24M) side is Scottish and they have many different traditions. I learned one today called "kidnapping the bride".

His cousin explained that a few days before the wedding a few of my fiance's relatives and friends were going to take me to a pub and we'd stay there until my fiancé found me.

They said it's a "bonding experience" where I hang out with his family and friends and my fiancé can bond with mine as they try to find me.

His cousin is a bit of a prankster and is more familiar with the town my future in-laws are from. (My fiancé lives in America but makes several visits to Scotland to visit. We are getting married in Scotland since he has older relatives that couldn't travel to the states.)

I had never heard of this tradition before but when I looked it up, the best I could find was a version in Germany. The only Scottish tradition that was similar included covering the couple in food as a joke. (Asked his grandmother about the last one and she said they would never do that one).

I'm worried his cousin will purposely choose a pub hard to find or pull a prank on me when I'm there.

Has anyone else heard of this tradition? Is it common? If so, what happens during it? It sounds harmless but I have an anxiety disorder and the idea of being alone with his friends and family for hours without him scares me.

Logically I know they wouldn't do anything intentionally to hurt anyone. They can just be a lot for me (and thats totally a Me thing. His cousin is classic extrovert.) They just like to joke around a lot. I

ts more the second thing you said-I want to make a good impression since according to Cousin, multiple relatives I haven't met before will be in on it.

I'm more worried that they'll try to mess with my fiance by picking somewhere in the middle of nowhere and I'm in a awkward situation for several hours. Its also just a little scary being in a place I've never been with unfamiliar people in a country I've only visited a handful of times.

Also, never seen Made of Honor but just checked the wiki. My fiancé did mention a tradition involving throwing coins for the children in the wedding but I haven't heard the "peck for a coin", I'll have to ask about that one.

We're doing a handfasting and the family has a special bowl/cup that we both are drinking out of during the ceremony. (There's also a specific song my in laws asked to be played as the last song of the reception, but thats all the traditions I can think of at the top of my head. We're still in the early planning stages)

I'm scared I'll say something dumb or make a fool of myself. I'm just too mentally ill for this. I'm close with some of them but not all of them.....but I guess that's also the point of this tradition? AITA?

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some of the top responses:

noregerts7 writes:

So first off, know that if you truly don't want to do it, you don't have to. You can politely decline. It's your choice.

I think the fact that the cousin approached you beforehand to explain the tradition, so you would know what to expect, rather than surprising you on the day of, is a good sign that he is thinking about your feelings and wants you to be confortable and have fun. It's thoughtful.

I get your anxiety and would likely feel the same but the tradition does sound like it's meant to be a fun, bonding experience, so in your shoes, I would likely consider what I need or could do to be comfortable participating in it.

Maybe you want to invite one of your good friends or fun and social relative with you - or perhaps knowing that some of your favorite in-laws will be there is enough. Maybe your fiance can let cousin know that you aren't a fan of pranks. Maybe you want to set a time limit.

Maybe you or your fiance can mention your social anxiety to one of his good friends and ask if they'd help you out on that night, like help keep the conversation flowing. Etc. One thing to keep in mind is that if it lasts too long, you can always text the name of the pub to your fiance (or have a code to signal the best man to do it).

If you say something dumb, then you'll have said something dumb. That's it. It's not like they are going to hate you for it or cancel the wedding or something. Everyone has said dumb shit at some point. You are part of their family; nothing you can say or do on that night can change that.

beautifutide writes:

This is a fairly common Russian tradition as well where the groom has to “pay” to have his bride back. I believe that I’ve heard of other cultures doing it as well. I think it might be a more common thing than you know or that google may show. It could also be a family tradition.

Did you ask one of the other family members who he said would be “kidnapping” you about it? If it’s just a little bit of worry about him pranking you then talking to one of the other more reliable family members might set your mind at ease.

getyourkey writes:

Yeah it's a German tradition. I'm German-American and my cousins in Germany did this when they got married along with the polterabend. I'm planning on doing both as well in a few years when me and my fiance get married.

Basically the bride is "kidnapped" by the best man typically and he leaves a note for the husband-to-be with clues as to which bar he took her to. Then it's a race against the clock for the HTB to find his bride asap because he is in charge of paying the tab.

The bride and the groomsmen's job (there are variations on this but typically it's the bride and the groomsmen with the best man) is to basically live it up and order as many drinks as they want since hey they're not paying for it.

When the husband catches up with everyone all the drinks that have been consumed go on his tab and then it just becomes a regular bar night from there.

What's the point? Uh idk, lol. I think it's just a fun bonding thing for the bride to do with the husband's side of the bridal party. I'm sure there's some historical reason why this tradition became a thing but in my family it's just a harmless bit of wedding hijinx. The polterabend def has more symbolism and meaning.

Also I've never heard of it lasting for hours without the groom. In the modern version, it's usually expected that you'll take her to a bar that the couple actually knows and likes so that along with the note of clues usually gives the groom enough info to know where to go.

Usually grooms take maybe 30 min tops to find her, assuming of course that he found the note quickly after she left.

leathlucra writes:

It’s definitely a tradition in several European countries. My friend is Finnish and she was “kidnapped” at her wedding, although in practice it meant she was taken into another room and given champagne while her husband had to do tasks to get her back e.g. making up a song about her and performing it. Some Germans and Hungarians do this too.

derthlin writes:

I have never heard of something like this, I'm not from Scotland tho. But... this sounds awful. I would definitely not go with this, I don't have anxiety and I feel like crap just thinking of this situation, so I can't imagine how you feel.

I would talk to my partnet and tell him that this is not something I'm willing to do, due to your anxiety, it's not going to be fun for you, it's going to make you sick, maybe panic, so you both need to stood your ground.

vonadler writes:

A friend of mind married a Slovak girl, and they have a similar tradition - the bachelorette party/bridesmaids "kidnaps" the bride during the wedding party and takes her to a pub where they drink and have fun (and often buy drinks for the locals to bring them in on the cheer).

The groom and his bachelor's party/groomsmen then have to collect money from the wedding guests and go after the "kidnappers" - they need to meoney since the bridesmaids will leave the bill for the groom.

One of the groomsmen and one of the bridesmaids will keep in touch to ensure that the bride and bridemaids party remains a step ahead of the groom and groomsmen. The groom will then have to bribe the locals with more drinks to get them to spill the beans on where the bride's party headed next, then he heads after them.

After a suitable number of pubs have been visited, the groom catches up with the bride and "liberates" her from the "kidnapping" and gets back to the wedding party.

noncleverusername writes:

I had forgotten until now that my small town used to do a version of this. Only it was that the best man + groomsman would steal the bride, and the maid of honor + bridesmaids would steal the groom in the time between the end of the wedding and start of the reception.

They’d go to separate bars and do at least a couple shots. I think it ended because some people got a little too generous with the shots and the bride and/or groom ended up shitfaced or passed out at the reception a few too many times.

croswold writes:

About 50 years ago when I was 4 years old, a bunch of male family members came to our house with a very drunk woman who looked like a bride. She was so wasted she believed everything they told her.

I don’t remember where it was but they told her some whopper about the place they were (I want to say a different state but I was young and don’t remember exactly). It’s fuzzy but when I read your title it reminded me of that. This was in western Oregon.

frostyex writes:

As someone that absolutely hated being surprised at my bridal shower, I feel for the op. Some of us introverted, anxious people are really overwhelmed by surprises like that. I am glad the cousin told her the truth. Sounds like she is entering into a great family. Having your feelings count is a huge sign of respect.

Then, OP provides this update:

UPDATE: I talked to Cousin and I’m glad I did. We talked for over an hour! I explained I’m nervous since I've never been anywhere in Scotland without my fiance before and asked about the “kidnapping”.

Cousin admitted they planned to make it like a puzzle for my fiance to solve since he's mentioned we both love escape rooms. (ex. texting clues to the pub's name or location, etc.) and even some relatives are in on it already. (ex: one of his aunt's runs a bookstore and a clue could lead to her, and she'd give him another clue).

Cousin explained it'd been so long since anyone in the family married and they wanted to go big.

Cue terrified bride. I told Cousin that it sounds fun, but might overwhelm me. Cousin tried to reassure me and after some back and forth, they admitted my fiance's grandparents wanted to rent out a place and make the whole thing a second bridal shower/party for me since lots of relatives won't meet me until closer to the wedding.

They were going to drop a surprise party on me. It sounds nice I asked Cousin about scaling back and we reached a compromise.

Cousin will give me the location as soon as its decided and (per reddit’s' advice) I can bring a friend/relative with me, AND there's a cut off point where if my fiance gives up or I've had enough, we text my fiance the location (and I can have as much contact with my fiance via phone as I want).

Looks like OP resolved the situation. Would you have been up for this tradition or was she right to decline?

Sources: Reddit
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